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Digging Deep…and Loving It

October 5, 2010

Catching a high: jubilant SBS at finish of last marathon

Before I ever had children, I had a very distinct reaction every time I saw a pregnant woman. I’d think, “Oh, that poor gal, she has to get that baby out of her!” Strange thing, though: When I was knocked up, I never once felt dread or concern about having to give birth and get that puppy out of my body.

It’s similar to how I felt when a good friend had a marathon coming up: “Sucks for her: She has to run 26.2 miles.” Even when my pals were running the illustrious Boston Marathon, I’d still almost be reduced to pitying them. And when my previous six marathon race days approached, I pitied myself at having to slog through roughly four hours of exertion. But, just like when I was preggers for the first time, something has changed. Suddenly I can’t wait for it to be race day so I can see what I can do.

I’m not saying I’m eager to meet up with exertional hurt—I know it’s waiting for me out there somewhere on Highway 30 or along Willamette Boulevard—but I’m exhilarated at the thought of pushing my boundaries. Over the years, I’ve read numerous blog posts about how each race teaches you something. I’ll admit: I used to think that was a load of horsepucky. Yet now I know they were telling the real-deal. When I reflect back on my last ‘thon, the thing I remember best is the feeling of digging deep–really, really, really deep—in the second half of the race in an effort to shave seconds off my time. And even though I knew my goal was derailed by a steep-bugger of a hill at mile 25, the joy of having pushed hard filled my body as I neared the finish line. It flooded my body, overriding the lactic acid. (Want proof? Check out the break-my-cheeks, whoop-it-up smile in the photo above, taken steps from the finish line.)

Twenty-six point two miles is a long way to go for such a high, but that one was worth it. And now I’m ready to give birth to that feeling again.

35 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2010 4:12 am

    Can I get an AMEN!? “Go, Champy, Go!”

  2. October 5, 2010 4:55 am

    Go get it SBS! Gosh I wish it were going to be cool enough to wear what you have on in the pic in Chicago this weekend.

    • Natalie permalink
      October 5, 2010 7:12 am

      I am with you on the Chicago weather front. Hoping it’s still a bit early to be freaking out over-much. You know what they say about Chicago weather: If you don’t like it, wait a few seconds. It will change.

      Here’s hoping!!!!!

  3. October 5, 2010 4:59 am

    Thanks SBS as this gives me some hope! I’m staring down my first marathon 11/21 in Philly. Labor turned out not to be as horrible (don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun) as I thought it would be, so your post gives me hope for my 26.2…..

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 5, 2010 10:31 am

      Hey, Ellen. It’s all in the attitude. A marathon is a big ol’ challenge, to be sure, but if you have a good mindset when you approach it, you can get the better of it, not the other way around.

      And I’m going to be in Philly–at expo and running half with my h.s. BFF. I look forward to meeting you!

      • October 5, 2010 3:56 pm

        Thanks SBS. As my trainer tells me, “it’s all mental from here.” I have a t-shirt that says “I’m just a merry ray of sunshine.” May need to pull that out and wear it on race day. Best of luck on Sunday 🙂

  4. October 5, 2010 6:34 am


  5. October 5, 2010 7:01 am

    So excited for you girls!!! You are going to rock it!

  6. October 5, 2010 7:18 am

    Love the attitude!

  7. October 5, 2010 7:30 am

    Your pic says it all :o) You look great! Congrats!!!

  8. October 5, 2010 7:44 am

    You are amazing, Sarah. I wish I could be on the sidelines screaming my head off for you, mama!

  9. Tryna permalink
    October 5, 2010 9:02 am


    I just know Sunday has something special in store for you. Enjoy yourself, have a great ride, and hubby and I will be cheering from the sidelines as you finish well under your time goal. Maybe a motivating word in consideration of this post and during your tough times could be, “PUSH!”

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 5, 2010 10:32 am

      Love it, Tryna. Thanks. Any idea where you two will be spectating along the course?

  10. Michelle permalink
    October 5, 2010 10:01 am

    I plan on relaxing all day on Sunday….and sending every ounce of my positive, strong energy to you! Have a great race!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 5, 2010 10:32 am

      Thank you, Michelle (although suddenly a part of me envies you…a day on the couch sounds appealing!! hee, hee).

  11. October 5, 2010 10:01 am

    I have learned something in EVERy race and even many long runs.. GO SARAH!! you will be great…if I remember right you stopped to pee in your last “thon” cut that out and you are golden.. HUGS!! Hope to see you out there..

  12. Cynthia permalink
    October 5, 2010 10:08 am

    Thanks for this post SBS it couldn’t describe my feelings any better. I’m running Portland this Sunday too and it is my first marathon! I’m so nervous and have butterflies in my stomach already. I’m doubting my training right now. I know that I will hurt towards the end of it. I’m worried about hitting “the wall”. I’m worried cause I am running this race alone and without my normal racing friends. But at the same time I’m so looking foward to Sunday. Looking foward to having the adrenaline rush through me as I run with thousands of other people. Looking foward to my twenty six point two mile high 🙂

    • April permalink
      October 5, 2010 10:30 am

      I too am running Portland this weekend! I not only will not see you in the race SBS unfortunately, I’ll be so far behind that the back of you will be an hour ahead 🙂 I wanted so bad to come to the reading, but I’m driving over from Bend and won’t make it by noon,.. very sad :(:(

      But yes, I laugh at how at my last marathon (which was my first in Eugene) I was in so much discomfort and, well… hell, that I of course said I’d never do another. And here I am super excited to do it again! I also thought, holy crap, these people are CRAZY! I have a higher respect for the marathon runner now. So knowing and coming back is half the battle, now THAT’S determination

      • bowenshea permalink*
        October 5, 2010 10:34 am

        April–I’ll be at expo selling books (and all-new tees!!) until about 3 or 3:30. First table inside expo. Please stop by and say hi. And enjoy Sunday!! I, too, remember saying NEVER AGAIN after my first 26.2. Now I’m about to do #7….

        • April permalink
          October 5, 2010 11:04 am

          Oh good to know!! I’m dying for a shirt,.. and my co-runner is looking for the book! Awesome, I will be sure to be there!! (now I just have to wrangle the husband and kids to get up and out!)

    • Paige permalink
      October 5, 2010 6:25 pm

      Cynthia, Trust your training!! ; ) I ran my first marathon in March of this year. I was just about to hit the wall when a race angel disguised as a Marathon Maniac came out of nowhere and pushed me beyond anything I thought I could do. Just dig deep and enjoy the experience! You’re going to rock that race! I hope you’ll meet your very own Race Angel…or get the chance to be one for someone else!

  13. October 5, 2010 11:53 am

    You know what gets me? The nerves about an hour before the gun goes off. EVERY time I am in that “god-I’m-sweating-already-and-it-hasn’t-even-started-yet” place I ask myself, “why are you putting yourself through this, Laura?” Just registered yesterday for a trail marathon with 9,200 elevation change. Here we go….. And here YOU go! Can’t wait to cheer you on Sunday, Sarah!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 5, 2010 6:13 pm

      Oh, I KNOW: It’s all self-imposed, which then reminds me, “oh, yeah, I must LIKE this!” For me the nerves hit when I brush my teeth pre-marathon. It literally makes me gag. I have debated NOT brushing before a race but, hey, you never know who you’ll run into “;>)

  14. October 5, 2010 1:36 pm

    That picture makes me cry. In a good way!

    Have a great weekend! I’ll be thinking of you!

  15. October 5, 2010 1:46 pm

    I’m blaming this on taper madness (not just that I’m a schmuck) – I’m sitting here crying because I want my experience on Sunday (first marathon in Victoria, BC) to be what your picture is. If I can look that elated at the end of the race I’ll be thrilled! So far I’m doing a good job just ignoring my anxiety, but I’m pretty sure it’ll pop up on Saturday morning on the ferry ride over to the island.

    Have a great race and thanks for the inspiration!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 5, 2010 6:15 pm

      Alanna–Maybe keep an image of my wacked-out high in your head. I’m not gonna lie: It’ll hurt toward the end. But the pride will eventually override it. Have an excellent experience!!

  16. October 5, 2010 3:56 pm

    That picture is worth a thousand words! Hope you get another one just like it this weekend!

  17. LaJean permalink
    October 5, 2010 7:36 pm

    There was always a feeling of VICTORY for me in crossing the line, no matter how crappy I felt or how much the blisters had been bleeding since mile 15! Just knowing what you are capable of, that 99.999% of the population would never attempt let alone complete, is huge, and has stayed with me my whole life, affecting everything I have ever tried in any area of my life in a positive way.

  18. Erica Richards permalink
    October 5, 2010 7:49 pm

    Starting to freak out now! My first marathon is on 10/17 and all this talk about pain is making me think I’m delusional. I missed my 23 mile training run but did a 21 and while it was a few weeks ago, I don’t recall being in so much pain that I thought, what the heck am I doing? My goal is to finish somewhere between 4 1/2 and 5 hours (my half PR is 2:11) so I wasn’t really thinking this was going to suck (too much). Oh boy, am I wrong? Need a little talking down off the cliff…daily it seems now!
    Anyway, enjoy Sarah! Great picture!! Hope mine looks similar. 🙂

  19. October 5, 2010 8:33 pm

    Great post! I’m doing my first marathon in less than 2 weeks…YIKES! I hope mine goes as well as yours!

  20. October 6, 2010 9:02 am

    Good luck, Champy!! Having been there this weekend, I definitely know that feeling of anticipation. Friday night I was jumping for joy at the chance to run St George again. The marathon of “07 at St George was my favorite marathon experience. It was 4 1/2 months after having my 3rd baby and I am sure it helped that I didn’t have an ounce of pressure on me. I had done no speedwork and had only hit 20 miles once. I was just happy to be there injury free. I ended up having the time of my life, literally giggling as I ran down the hills from mile 14 to the end. I had a 30 minute PR and was in shock! So the night before this year’s St George all I remembered was how much fun I had! I was looking forward to running down the hills with a huge smile on my face as I headed toward my Boston Qualifying dream.
    As you well know now, it did not happen this way. I ran my plan through 14 and when the downhills came, my legs decided not to go any faster. I tried for 3 miles to convince them that they would love it if they just gave it a chance, but they could not be convinced. I called Jeff at mile 17 to let him know that Boston wasn’t happening and could he please join me for the end. He ran me into the end and we had a fantastic race. He kept me from having an even slower marathon and I loved having him next to me. I learned that even the best training cannot help when it is 80 degrees and you are used to running in 50. I have been reading race reports and there are many similar experiences. So, what next?! We will find out!! I am proud of my 4:18 for what it is. I WILL get that BQ. Just don’t know when yet!!

    I hope everything goes well for you on Sunday and I will be cheering you on. It has been awesome to go through our marathon experiences together. Thanks for all your support!!

  21. October 6, 2010 7:53 pm

    SBS, you have been so incredibly consistent and right on track with the training–I have no doubt you are going to even surprise yourself with your race on Sunday!! Excited for you and I’ll be cheering you on whether on the road or on the sidelines!!! I’m okay with either, at this point…but I’m planning on lining up!! Kill it, SBS!! Can’t wait to read about your race!

  22. October 6, 2010 7:54 pm

    SBS, you have been so incredibly consistent and right on track with the training–I have no doubt you are going to even surprise yourself with your race on Sunday!! Excited for you and I’ll be cheering you on whether on the road or on the sidelines!!! I’m okay with either, at this point…but I’m planning on lining up!! lessons learned. Kill it, SBS!! Can’t wait to read about your race!

  23. October 7, 2010 7:48 pm

    Great post! It’s so true, the hurt is worth it. I just finished my 3rd half this year, and I told myself that for this race that I’d dig deep and really push it for the last 10k but I pulled back because I wasn’t sure if I’d have anything left in the tank. I got nervous. I am so dissappointed in myself because I have never dug deep enough to truly push myself, mediocore was ok. Not anymore, 15k in 5 weeks, & I am going to see what I am really made of.

    Have a great race, I confident that you will kick ass!

  24. Monica permalink
    October 10, 2010 12:12 pm

    Sarah! Jay and I were following you from Sweden and now you are DONE… Great job. You broke your 4 hour mark by 6 seconds…. I hope you had a great time. Wishing you all the best for a relaxing remainder of the day. I hope Jack and the kiddos came out to cheer you on.

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